Passion, Power, and Intrigue in An Enduring Family Drama

Friday, August 1, 2014

Finding a Suitable Blind Date for Mom

Although Tyler and Brad Schuyler had led privileged childhoods, they weren't completely unaware of the fact that other people lived lifestyles a little different from their own. Tyler and Brad knew that not everyone had a live-in maid, their own car on their sixteenth birthday and lifelong memberships to the Schuyler Square Country Club. They had even known people who drove economy cars instead of luxury models and who stayed at chain motels when they went on vacations. But nothing had prepared either of them for Leo Farmer's house.

"This place is a pigsty," Brad muttered under his breath as he eyed a foot high stack of dirty laundry that was scattered across the floor. "It stinks too. How'd you find this guy?"

"Shut up," Tyler quietly ordered. "He'll hear you."

"Him?" Brad said in disbelief as he gestured across the room toward the naked, hairy back of Leo Farmer. "We could clash a couple of cymbals together and he wouldn't hear us. He asked me five times what my name is and I'm sure that's due to some major league wax blockage in those disgusting ears. Look at him!"

Reluctantly Tyler glanced over at the spot where Leo was standing in front of his kitchen sink, vigorously lathering his face, neck and torso with both hands and a bar of Ivory soap. He looked a great deal like a half-naked grizzly bear. A bald half-naked grizzly bear wearing blue and white striped pajama bottoms and pink fuzzy slippers. "He's a little rough around the edges but I'm sure he'll clean up just fine."

"Are you insane? The only thing that's going to be different when he's clean is that he won't smell quite so bad. Seriously, Tyler, can you really see Mom going out with that?"

"She'll go if she thinks he's richer than Donald Trump," Tyler said optimistically.

"Tell me again how you found this guy," Brad requested but at that moment Lou turned to face them so the brothers had to stop their conversation.

"That's better," Leo said in a voice that was a cross between a growl and a snarl. "I feel like a new man. Let me get a clean shirt on and then I'll go pick up your mom."

"Uh, Leo, maybe you'd better put some pants on too," Tyler suggested. "The Schuyler Square Country Club is a little on the fancy side."

Looking down at his torn and faded pajama bottoms, Leo laughed. "Good idea! I wouldn't want to shock all those stuffed shirts with my at home clothes. I'll be right down, boys. Help yourselves to a beer if you want one. I think I started a can that's on the top shelf." Leo left the combination living room/kitchen. A moment later Tyler and Brad heard a door slam down the hallway.

Immediately Brad collapsed onto Leo's sofa. "This is a nightmare! How are you ever going to convince Mom that Leo Farmer is a billionaire widower?"

"Mom will believe whatever we tell her," Tyler said, wishing that he believed what he was saying.

"I'm not so sure about that. I think she had a pretty good time with that Chuck guy last night. She didn't get home until after four in the morning. I doubt she'll be interested in meeting someone new. Especially someone like Leo."

"Stop worrying. Leo is going to make Mom forget all about Chuck."

"Why do I doubt that? Now tell me fast--where did you find that Bozo?"

"At the unemployment office," Tyler reluctantly admitted.

"The what?"

"You know, the place where people go when they can't find a job. Leo is an unemployed actor-slash-party entertainer."

"What's a party entertainer?"

"It's kind of like a clown only more classy. Leo juggles and tells jokes and also makes his own appetizers shaped like torpedos. He calls them 'Leo's Torpedos. He said they're out of this world."

"And you, naturally, believed him. Why did I let you talk me into this? Mom is going to see through our plan, get ticked and cut us out of the will for a few months. And suppose she dies during that time? Then we are really screwed?"

"All right, boys, I'm ready to meet your charming mother."

Brad and Tyler turned at the sound of Leo's gravelly voice, their jaws dropping in unison. Gone was the half-dressed, tubby, bald fire hydrant who had let them into his house. In his place was a handsome man wearing a charcoal grey suit, a crisp white shirt and a tasteful maroon tie. Leo looked like someone who might advertise good scotch in the New Yorker. "Well," Tyler said in a hopeful voice, "you look like you're ready to have a good time."

"I am," Leo assured him, "but I"m going to need to borrow a car from one of you two. My Gremlin broke down this morning and I can't get the sucker started for the life of me."

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fixing Mom Up on a Blind Date

"Mom, do you have a moment?" Tyler asked his mother after entering her mirrored dressing room. Catching a glimpse of his reflection in the ceiling, Tyler tried to flatten a cowlick that was sprouting on the top of his head but it didn't work. Time to make an appointment for a haircut with Mr. Keith. Thank God we're rich and I never have to go to one of those cut-rate places for a haircut, Tyler thought. It must really suck to be poor--which was exactly why he needed to make sure his mother didn't get hooked up with yet another loser in her latest round of the middle-aged Dating Game.

"Of course, darling," Mavis assured him, carefully applying an extra thick line of dark blue eyeliner and extending it into a large wing just past her left eye. "But keep it quick. Mommy has a date tonight."

"Oh, yeah? Who are you going out with?"

"No one you know, precious. Just a man." Mavis smirked at her reflection. "A very handsome man."

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, Mom," Tyler said. "I, um, was wondering if you'd like to meet someone...someone sort of...well, you know..."

"Spit it out, Tyler," Mavis snapped. "What are you trying to say?"

"A friend of mine's widowed father just moved to Schuyler Square and I told him that you'd like to have dinner with him."

Mavis laughed. "Why on earth did you tell him that? I don't need any help from my son to find a date. I do quite well on my own, thank you very much."

"I know that--"

"Then why are you sneaking behind my back, arranging blind dates for me?" Half turning in her chair, Mavis peered intently at Tyler. "Unless this man is incredibly good looking and insanely wealth--then I'd know that you only have your mommy's best interests at heart. Is he handsome and rich?"

"He makes Donald Trump look like a chump and he's a dead ringer for Tom Cruise," Tyler assured her. "And he's dying to meet you."

Mavis turned back to the mirror and began to fuss with her curls. "Well, I suppose it wouldn't hurt if I met the man. When are we supposed to get together?"

"Tomorrow night at the club."

"All right. I happen to be free tomorrow night but right now I'm running late. I'm meeting the most divine man at that new bar downtown--the one with the illuminated skull over the door."

"Your going to Headhunters?" Tyler felt his eyes bulge inside his own skull. The thought of his classy mother hanging out at a dive like Headhunters--blowing his future inheritance--made him sick to his stomach. Until recently Tyler had never cared too much about money but lately he'd done a great deal of growing up in that regard and he'd come to realize that not only was he entitled to his half of the Schuyler fortune, he also deserved it and he was going to make damn sure that his mother didn't blow it all before her number was up. "Have you ever been there before?"

"Not really. I walked past it once and peeked inside but I have to admit that it looked a little dingy to me.But Chuck assured me that I'll love their Red Headed Sluts."


"It's a drink, Tyler. Calm down. I think it has peach schnapps or something healthy like that in it. Doesn't it sound intriguing?"

Things were far worse than Tyler had even imagined. His mother usually stuck to dry martinis and now she was going to go drink a Red Headed Slut? Could life get any worse? Or any more confusing? "Then you'll go out with my friend's dad tomorrow," he confirmed.

Rising to her feet, Mavis squirted on a cloud of Opium and then patted him lightly on one cheek. "Of course I will. Especially if he's a rich and as handsome as you say he is. I'll see you later."

"Be home early!" Tyler called after her as Mavis floated out of her dressing room and toward the staircase. A moment later he heard the front door shut. Tyler sank into his mother's makeup chair and stared at his downcast reflection. Great. Just great. His mother was out with some gigolo and he needed to find someone who would be willing to pretend to be a grieving widower who just happened to be as rich as Donald Trump before tomorrow night. It looked like he had his work cut out for him.

Friday, July 25, 2014

There is Something Seriously Wrong With Mom

"There is something seriously wrong with Mom," Tyler Schuyler told his older brother Brad. The two brothers were seated in the library at Schuyler Manor, watching television and being as unproductive as possible, two activities they both excelled at.

"What are you talking about? She's just the same as she always is," Brad said in a bored voice as he channel surfed. "How come no one shows reruns of 'The Dukes of Hazzard' when I can watch them? They always put them on when I'm not home."

"She is not the same as she always is," Tyler argued. "She's acting weird."

"She's always weird."

"Well, she's weirder. Have you looked at her lately?"

"Not really."

"You should. She's dressing like she's Tiffany's age in tight shirts and skirts that are way too short and her hair's all strange and straight and she told me yesterday that she's thinking about getting a tattoo."

"No kidding! Mom, a tattoo? Of what?"

"Of Cher."

"Why the hell would she get a tattoo of Cher?"

"Because she's decided that she looks like Cher and that if she has a tattoo of Cher on her shoulder, people will comment on the resemblance between the two of them."

Brad laughed. "You're right; that is weird even for Mom. Well, so what? She's entitled to have a little fun at her age."

"And then there's this." Tyler pulled a book out from under the sofa where he'd hidden it earlier that day. "I found it on her nightstand." Waving it it under Brad's nose, he asked, "Why would she be reading this?"

"If you'd stop waving it back and forth maybe I could read the title," Brad said. "What is it?"

"Cougar Lifestyles for Dummies," Tyler said. "Don't you see what's happening right under our noses? Mom is turning into a cougar!"

"Mom? Don't be ridiculous. Mom has way too much class too do anything like that. She'd never become a cougar--she'd look like an idiot if she showed up at the country club with a younger guy."

"Remember that police officer she moved in here last year?" Tyler questioned. "He was younger than Mom."

"That was just some strange pre-menopausal fling," Brad told him.

"Then what about this?" Tyler reached under the sofa again and pulled out his mother's cell phone. "Mom been texting some guy named Chuck. Or should I say she's been sexting him. Some of her messages are pretty embarrassing."

"You stole Mom's cell phone and read her texts? I think you're the one with the problem, Tyler. Ever since you broke up with Mindy, you've gotten definitely strange. What do you care who Mom dates or doesn't date? You need to get out more."

Tyler played his best card. "I'm just thinking about our inheritance," he said darkly. "If Mom did get remarried, her new husband might go through all the money that we're supposed to inherit especially if he's a lot younger than she is and outlives her."

"No one could go through that much money," Brad argued.

"They could try."

At last he had his brother's full attention. "So what can we do about it?" Brad questioned.

"Simple," Tyler replied,. "We have to find a suitable date for our mother ourselves. And I know exactly just the right guy--that is, unless you want Mom to get Cher on one shoulder and Sonny on the other."

"Of course I don't! Let's get started. After all, we're only thinking of Mom."

"Naturally," Tyler agreed.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What's a Cougar?

The problem with living in a small town, Mavis Schuyler mused, was that it was so amazingly predictable. Especially for someone like Mavis, self-proclaimed Queen of Schuyler Square and the one woman that all other female Schuyler Square-ites longed to emulate. And the problem with predictability was that it could get a touch boring.

Making her way to her bi-weekly appointment with Mr. Keith, Mavis walked past at least half a dozen other women who eyed her with an envy so obvious that Mavis almost felt sorry for them. Really, it wasn't her fault that she'd been born wealthy, beautiful and fairly bright. Nor was it her fault that her late husband had also been fabulously wealthy. People simply had to accept the fact that rich people almost always married other rich people. Such unions were guarantees of good genes and decadent bank accounts. With a satisfied sigh she pushed open the door of Mr. Keith's Creations and took a deep breath of the hairspray scented air.

"Mavis!" Mr. Keith greeted her effusively. "How do you do it?" he demanded. "Those eyes, that hair--those cheekbones! You're such a gorgeous creature. What are you doing in a backwater town like Schuyler Square?"

Although Mr. Keith's remarks were almost identical to what he said to her each time he saw her, as Mavis sank into Mr. Keith's chair she found herself actually listening to him for a change. What was a stunning creature like herself doing in a dumpy little soap opera town like Schuyler Square? There was no reason for her to stay. Her husband was dead, her children were a disappointment and the police kept acting like she had something to do with that unfortunate murder of that dreadful little chemist a few months back. She should move to New York or Rome or Paris. She owed it to herself.

"I see you have another admirer," Mr. Keith said an hour later as he brushed out her hair. "Although I'm not surprised. You really are such a cougar."

"A what?" Mavis asked.

"A cougar. You know--a beautiful middle-aged woman who can't help attracting younger men." Mr. Keith nodded toward the mirror they were both facing. "Look at that. He can't take his eyes off of you."

Looking into the mirror Mavis saw a stunning man staring at her from across the beauty salon. With his tousled brown hair, big blue-grey eyes and pretty amazing cheekbones of his own it was like looking at a movie star. A very sexy, very young movie star who just happened to be a dead ringer for Liam Neeson. "Who is that?" Mavis whispered.

"Chuck Foster. He just bought the restaurant next door. He comes in here to get his nails manicured once a week. Not bad, I'd say."

"No," Mavis agreed, "not bad at all--although he is a touch younger than I am." Like ten or fifteen years but she'd never admit that to Mr. Keith.

"That's why you're a cougar," Mr. Keith explained. "You attract younger men like flames attract moths. It's a gift, Mavis. Especially in a small town where men who are your age are about as rare as blizzards in August."

He had a point. "Is he married?" Mavis asked. Married men were too complicated, something she knew after her unfortunate entanglement with a married police officer the year before.

"I don't know. Why don't you ask him? He's coming over here and believe me it isn't to ask me for my number.

Mavis felt a surprising attack of nerves. Just that morning she had been bored and tired of small town living. Looking up into Chuck Foster's amazing grey-blue eyes she had the feeling that something extremely interesting was about to happen and that being bored was the last thing she needed to worry about.

"Hello," Chuck Foster said in a deep, velvet smooth voice. "You're dying to meet me, aren't you?"

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fritz Who?

Tiffany Schuyler was more than a little disgusted with her life lately.  For starters, her boyfriend Rex was such a disappointment. Make that a major disappointment. When she met him he had shared his dream of having his own rock band with him as lead singer, complete with tight leather pants and gruesome tattoos. It hadn't take a very large stretch of Tiffany's somewhat limited imagination to envision an exciting life as the future wife of a rock star. A life filled with plenty of rides in limousines, wild parties after concerts and possibly even a reality show like Tori Spelling's--only Tiffany and Rex wouldn't let the cameras film their fights. Just the wonderful times so that everyone Tiffany had ever gone to school with would be insanely jealousy and regret having ever made fun of her or not picking her to be on their softball team.

But Rex wasn't a rock star. He wasn't any kind of star. The jerk didn't even have a regular job. All he seemed to want to do was sit around their apartment, drink beer, fart and watch The Price is Right--not exactly the dream boyfriend Tiffany longed for.

Then there was her father. Her real father, Tom Hartman, whom she hadn't even known existed until a little while ago. If she had to have a long lost father pop up, why couldn't it be someone with tons of money and a limited interest in parenting. Tom wanted to bond all the time and was constantly asking Tiffany to go on walks with him and take her out for ice cream. She wasn't a three year old! Why didn't he get that? Tiffany didn't want to bond with Tom. She wanted a father who would pay for her wedding, tell her she was beautiful and leave her alone. Was that so much to ask for?

Finally, and worst of all, there was her weight loss. Or her former weight loss. After losing all that weight on Fat Off, Tiffany had gained most of it back. Nothing depressed her more than not being able to fit into the cute clothes she bought when she was skinny. If she could just get her hands on one more can of Fat Off--but how?

"Tiffany? You home?" Rex banged into the apartment, instantly setting Tiffany's fragile nerves on edge. Tiffany was in the bedroom lying down. Maybe she could pretend to be asleep. That way she wouldn't get dragged into another stupid argument with Rex over whose turn it was to go out for carryout. That was another disappointing thing about Rex--he could eat Burger King every single night. What was wrong with Hardee's once in a while or Taco Bell?

"Tiffany?" Tiffany shut her eyes as the bedroom door opened. After a second, Rex left. She heard him flop on the sofa and turn the television set on. Heaven forbid that he should be thoughtful about keeping the house quiet while she was napping. A moment or two later she heard another sound. Rex was talking on his cell phone. She frowned. Who could he be talking to? Although Tiffany wasn't exactly totally in love with Rex, she still didn't want him cheating on her.

Tiffany crept to the door and opened it a crack.

"Yeah, I know," she heard Rex say. "You told me that. I know all that crap. Would you let it drop? I told you that I'd take care of it!" He sounded annoyed and Tiffany instantly felt better. If he was cheating on her, he'd sound a lot nicer to his girlfriend--for awhile at least.

"Look, no one is ever going to be able to trace any of that back to either of us! I told you that I took care of everything."

Tiffany's stomach grumbled. She'd give anything for a Snickers bar. Maybe in a few minutes she'd pretend to wake up and they could go to the store or to Burger King for dinner since she was feeling a little more charitable toward Rex since he wasn't cheating on her.

"In a few months no one is even going to remember Fritz," Rex said. "So forget about it. I have." He ended his call and Tiffany went back to the bed to lie down. That was strange. Fritz who? Her blood suddenly ran cold. Fritz--wasn't that the name of the creepy scientist who got killed?

Why would Rex be talking about him?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Another Likely Suspect?

“I don’t believe it,” Mindy said flatly. “There’s no way that you could ever convince me that Tyler had anything to do with Fritz’s murder.”
“Why is that?” Peter quizzed. “Because you two were engaged or because you believe that he has such a sterling character?”
“Both,” Mindy replied stubbornly. “You don’t know Tyler. He’s the only decent person to ever come out of the Schuyler family. He’s good natured, good hearted—he’d never kill anyone.”
“Maybe he had a good reason that you don’t know about,” Peter countered. “After all, the two of you broke up a long time ago.”
“But Fritz was murdered while Tyler and I were still together,” Mindy pointed out. “I’d know if my fiancĂ© had killed someone, wouldn’t it?”
“You’d be surprised,” Peter replied. “People are capable of hiding all sorts of things when they are properly motivated.”
“Even murder? That would take one hell of a motivation.” Mindy sighed and glanced at the clock hanging on the wall of the newsroom. It was almost time to go home. She wished Peter would get to the point and go away. While she found Officer Van Husen extremely attractive, she was also finding him extremely annoying. The man took forever to finish a conversation. “So what’s this evidence you have anyway?”
Peter drew a deep, self important breath. “It seems that Tyler was seen having a fight with Fritz shortly before Fritz was murdered.”
Mindy waited. When Peter didn’t continue she said, “So what? Plenty of people had fights with Fritz. He had that kind of personality. Prickly. Why, offhand I can name at least three people who had a fight with him the week he died.”
Peter leaned forward, his blue eyes intent. “Who? And Why didn’t you mention this to the police before?”
“I’m sure I did.”
“Well, humor me and tell me again.”
Thinking back, Mindy held out her hand and began to list the people who didn’t get along with the late chemist. “You’re right about Tyler; they didn’t get along and they did have a fight but it was nothing major. Tyler thought Fritz was interested in me and he told him to leave me alone.”
“Jealousy. Always a factor in crimes of passion.”
Mindy ignored him. “Then there was Bernard. Fritz and Bernard were always fighting over money and Fat Off. Fritz thought Bernard was taking advantage of him. He was right about that.”
“Bernard has an ironclad alibi,” Peter said. “Who’s the third suspect?”
Mindy sighed. “That would be me although I don’t appreciate being called a suspect. I didn’t kill Fritz.”
“You? What would you two have to fight about?”
Mindy sighed again, more deeply. “Tyler was right about Fritz. He was coming on to me and after one too many grabs in the lab I told him to knock it off. He laughed and told me that he could always tell when a woman was interested in him and that I showed all the signs of wanting to go to bed with him. That’s when I bopped him with a Bunsen burner.”
“Are you saying that you hit him with a lethal weapon?”
“I’m saying that I tapped him lightly with a lab tool,” Mindy clarified.
“Did you knock him out?”
“No! Fritz Weiss was alive and screaming the last time I saw him!”
It was Peter’s turn to sigh. “I’m sorry to tell you this, Mindy, but you’re going to have to come down to the station with me.”
Mindy couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Are you kidding me? Why would I kill Fritz?"
"You tell me. All I know is that you're another likely suspect and I'm sure that our detective would like to ask you a few more questions."
Shaking her head, Mindy glared at Peter. The crush that she had on him dried up like a puddle on a hot day and was quickly replaced by a huge wave of pure contempt. Honestly, her taste in men had become truly appalling. The next time she got a crush on anyone, she was going to make sure that it was on someone normal.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Some Days It Really Doesn't Pay to Get Out of Bed

"How nice it is to see you again, Peter," Mavis said as she walked down the wide staircase toward the tall, blond man standing in her foyer. "You look wonderful."

"Hello, Mavis. It has been a long time. You're looking good too."

"Thank you," Mavis replied. She reached Peter's side and tried not to shiver. She had forgotten how tall and commanding he looked in his uniform. "Would you like to go into the den? Carrie is going to bring us a pot of coffee."

"All right," Peter agreed.

Together they walked down the hallway that led to the mahogany paneled den, Mavis stepping slightly in front of Peter so that he could enjoy the view of her tiger striped leggings and black cashmere tunic. He had always appreciated her in animal prints. When they reached the den, she sat down regally in her late husband's armchair and gestured for Peter to sit next to her. "Now tell me why you're here," she requested. "Why you're really here."

"I told you on the phone. There's been a lead in the murder of Fritz Weiss."

"Why would that matter to me?" she asked coyly.

Peter looked around the room uncomfortably. "Well, unfortunately the lead points to a member of your family."

Mavis laughed. "How could anyone in my family have possibly been involved with that grubby little scientist? He was hardly the kind of person that we would socialize with."

"Maybe not but a few things have surfaced about him and your son Tyler."

Mavis felt her good mood begin to fade. "Tyler? I doubt Tyler ever met Fritz Weiss."

"Didn't Tyler work at Kutrate Kemicals for a while as a custodian?"

"Only when he was helping that lowbrow ex-girlfriend of his. The job didn't last very long. Tyler doesn't know one end of a broom from the other."

"I wouldn't know about that, Mavis, but a source has told us that Tyler was seen having a heated argument with Fritz Weiss a few days before Weiss was murdered."

"So what?"

"I'd like to talk to Tyler. Is he home?"

Not only was her good mood gone but Mavis felt the bad mood that she'd woken up with return with a vengeance. Here she had thought that Peter wanted to rekindle some of their romance when all he wanted was to question her baby boy over some silly murder. "No, he's not."

"When will he be home?"

Mavis got to her feet. "I have no idea but if you want to question Tyler about anything, I suggest that you do it through our lawyer. Good-bye, Peter."

Slowly Peter got to his feet. "I guess this mean that we aren't having coffee?"

All of the reasons why she had broken up with Peter--or why she hadn't been too heartbroken when he had dumped her--came rushing back. His simple nature, his obtuseness, his apparent inability to recognize sarcasm when he heard it. "No, Peter, we aren't having coffee today or any other day. You can see yourself out." Stalking out of the den, Mavis headed for the staircase and the sanctuary of a steaming bubble bath followed by a few more hours of sleep. Honestly, some days it didn't pay to get out of bed and this was all to clearly one of them.

Almost tripping over Carrie who was approaching the den with a loaded tray, Mavis glared at her hapless maid. "Will you kindly watch where you are going?"

"Don't you want coffee?" Carrie asked.

"No! The officer is leaving!" Mavis huffed down the hallway.

Waiting until her boss had disappeared, Carrie continued into the den. "Mrs. Schuyler doesn't want coffee," she told the good looking police officer, "but perhaps I can do the honors in her place this morning."

Peter's blue eyes met Carrie's and slowly smiled. "That would be very nice," he told her. "Very nice indeed..."